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Feline Spongiform Encephalopathy

Hilbe MM, Soldati GG, Zlinszky KK, Wunderlin SS, Ehrensperger FF. Immunohistochemical study of PrPSc distribution in neural and extraneural tissues of two cats with feline spongiform encephalopathy. BMC Vet Res. Mar 31 2009;5(1):11.

Two domestic shorthair cats presenting with progressive hind-limb ataxia and increased aggressiveness were examined at necropsy and a diagnosis of feline spongiform encephalopathy (FSE) was made. A wide spectrum of tissue samples was collected and evaluated histologically and immunohistologically for the presence of prion protein. FSE is a prion-induced disease affecting most members of the cat family (Felidae). FSE belongs to the group of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) that also occur in humans, cattle and sheep. To date, 89 cases of FSE have been reported in domestic cats in Great Britain and a few cases additionally found in other European countries. The disease is characterized by progressive onset of clinical signs including abnormal behavior such as increased timidity or aggression, ataxia and hyperesthesia. The main histopathological lesions are vacuolation of the neuropil in the grey matter of the brain and spinal cord (also referred as spongiosis), vacuolation of neuronal perikarya, and a diffuse astrocytic reaction. The condition in cats is believed to result from ingestion of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-contaminated food. In the two cats necropsied, heavy prion protein immunostaining was detected in brain, retina, adrenal gland and the nerve plexus of the intestines. Some studies postulate a possible excretion of prions through urine (prionuria) and that this may play a role in the horizontal transmission of TSEs. Immunostaining was found in the kidneys of both an infected and a control cat. The two FSE cases described here had essentially the same histological lesions and prion protein distribution in the brain and the peripheral tissues as reported in earlier FSE cases. The source of infection for one cat could have been due to exposure to canned food contaminated with nervous tissue of BSE infected cattle from before the ban. In summary, the distribution of prion protein in FSE is similar to BSE but different from classical scrapie (sheep). Therefore, horizontal prion transmission in FSE appears to be unlikely. [VT]

Related articles:
Iulini B, Cantile C, Mandara MT, et al. Neuropathology of italian cats in feline spongiform encephalopathy surveillance. Vet Pathol. 2008 Sep;45(5):626-33.

Salvadori C, Lossi L, Arispici M, et al. Spongiform neurodegenerative disease in a Persian kitten. J Feline Med Surg. 2007 Jun;9(3):242-5.